Alice Levine: We're taking Porno to the world
My Dad Wrote A Porno co-host Alice Levine tells Carrie Lyell what to expect from their UK tour
Alice Levine with Porno co-hosts Jamie Morton and James Cooper
As podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno prepares for a mammoth live tour of the UK and Europe, DIVA’s Carrie Lyell gets the goss from Radio 1 DJ and Porno co-host Alice Levine.
DIVA: For those who are not familiar with My Dad Wrote A Porno, what is it? How would you explain it to an elderly relative?
Alice Levine: I absolutely would not explain it to an elderly relative Carrie, because I feel like I would be ex-communicated from the clan! But if I was telling a stranger I would say it’s three friends sat around a table dissecting and rightly criticising one of their dad’s erotic fiction with hilarious consequences. That bit is said in a movie trailer voice. It’s kind of like pub chat really. We sit around a table and we read this incredible book, the Belinda Blinked saga, and we try and decipher it because it does need quite a lot of analysing.
I read somewhere that the podcast was your idea. Is that true?
Oh god, that’s probably something I would say. Did I say that? Yeah, probably. I probably took all the credit for it. I think initially when Jamie read it to us, we were at the pub – James, Jamie and I and some other friends – and we just all fell in love with it. We thought it was so brilliant. I remember Jamie asking me, could I do something with it, because I was way more show-offy than him or the others, and I was like oh my god, I could read it or do a one-woman show or do something for Edinburgh with it. And he was like, I mean sure, it’s awful, do whatever you want with it. Then we kind of had a chat… we all said the funny bit was what just happened in the pub when you were reading it to us. So James, Jamie and I decided that that’s what we were going to do. We’ve done a lot of stuff together over the years and thought that’s the thing that will really bring it to life. I’m not sure I came up with the idea of the podcast, but I definitely tried to steal it for myself.
Have you been surprised by its success?
The boys shout at me for saying this but… no. [Laughs] That sounds really awful and smug. What I mean is we’ve done a lot of stuff together over the years, over 10+ years of knowing and working together, and with this, I just thought it was good straight away and I don’t say that about anything. I don’t listen back or watch back anything. I think it’s because it’s not really our work. It’s Rocky’s, and what we’re adding is nominal on top of that. But it just really made me laugh, and the boys made me laugh more. The whole thing, I just thought, there’s something in this. I guess I was surprised that people took to it but if nobody had ever listened to it I still would have been really proud of it because I just felt like we were doing something different and at a time when podcasting was really exciting. So yes and no. No, yes. A bit of that.
Part of the reason I think it works is because you can really feel the affection you and the boys have for each other. Do you agree?
Oh god yeah, I think so. We’ve always said we wanted people to feel like the fourth friend around the table rather than somebody who’s eavesdropping on a conversation. Everyone is very much there with us. People who have known each other for a long time feel the temptation to make in-jokes or references that people can't join in on but actually what I think we’ve got is a real clan. A real fun gang. All the stuff we like comedy wise isn’t mean-spirited and I think the intimacy of our chat, and that often we’re the butt of the joke, because actually, there’s a lot of affection towards Rocky too although we obviously send him up a lot. I think it is that, and that’s quite a hard thing to manufacture. People pretending to have a good time is just one of the worst things. People pretending to like each other is the pits so we were at a bit of an advantage because we do actually like each other [laughs].
Alice, Jamie and James
Aside from just working with the boys, what have been your highlights from this ridiculous, incredible, disgusting journey?
Definitely the live show because we had no idea how that would go down. We’ve got to play places like the Sydney Opera House and we’re playing the Royal Albert Hall this summer. I mean, it’s utterly ludicrous, Carrie… it’s absolutely mad. With the live show, there’s nowhere to hide, so when you get a laugh there it’s the most incredible feeling.
What about the low points?
The whole of Jim Stirling’s operation and the post-op situation was genuinely stomach-churning. Flaky pastry… I can’t even remember if that was a Rocky-ism or one of ours but that’s what I always think of. Like a filo pastry tart. That’s just utterly, utterly disgusting.
You’re touring the US at the moment, and the UK leg of the tour kicks off next month. What can we expect from that? Have you got any surprises up your sleeves?
We’re taking Rocky to the world! I feel like an Evangelist… we’re taking him on the road to every corner that we can [laughs]. What we do in a live show is we read a lost chapter, an exclusive chapter, that you can only hear live, and in the show there are reenactments. I do what I describe as a Ted Talk but it’s probably not one Ted would want to put his name to. There’s audience participation and every show is different in its own way. No two shows are the same, so it’s the ultimate experience if you’re already into it or even if you’re not – there are a lot of people who come who have never heard the podcast. It’s very loud… I’m entirely biased but it is an amazing night out. People bring their parents, which I find quite excellent.
James, Jamie and Alice at the Royal Albert Hall
Audiences take it pretty seriously, don’t they?
Oh my god, so much cosplay! We’ve never promoted that or suggested it but yeah, we’ve had people as bits of the trellis, members of the asses and donkeys trust, bits of the pub that features – the Horse and Jockey – lots of people in riding gear, lots of people in crumpled business gear. It’s so good.
What are your predictions for book four? Who is the rat inside Steels?
Oh my gosh, wasn’t that actually a good cliffhanger though?
It was - it’s like he’s getting better.
Yeah, imagine if he actually managed to tie it all together… then we’d have to issue a public apology because he’s incredible. I’m hoping, although I kind of fear this won’t be the case, we find out who the special one is in chapter one. But knowing Rocky it will not be mentioned at all in book four.
Or it’ll be someone we’ve never been introduced to at all.
Precisely. Which would be so infuriating when he’s so close to doing something good… but that would be in character for him so we must prepare ourselves for that.
Indeed! Are there times you’re so scarred by the content that you wish you’d never gotten involved?
Oh my god Carrie, honestly, sometimes you’ve had a really long day at work and then you have to sit down and listen to Rocky Flintstone’s pornography and you think, ‘What bad life decisions have I made that have lead me here?’ I feel most sorry for Jamie, obviously. James and I find it really funny but Jamie is naturally nauseated most of the time. It’s not so much that I’m scarred, but you can’t open your eyes wide enough at some of it. It’s just so mind-boggling.
Do you think anything can shock you now?
I would have said no but every time we open a new book, there’s some new description or some new angle – metaphorical or physical – that he comes up with that I’m like, oh my god. How has he managed it again? How has he managed to take this to a new place? It’s not always shocking sexually, but just the way his mind works. It’s utterly bizarre. I’m still not done with it and that’s quite incredible when we’re about to open book four. I think he can still shock. I mean, he’s learning everyday Carrie. He’s learning one step behind the rest of us.
Find out how to woo Belinda in the April issue of DIVA, on sale 23 March at the links below.
My Dad Wrote A Porno embarks on a nationwide tour on 16 April which culminates with the biggest podcast gig in history at the Royal Albert Hall on 21 June. More info and tickets available at mydadwroteaporno.com.
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